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I wrote this to maybe read at last night’s (EPIC!) Story Club, but the name-draw for open mic slots did not go my way. Still, I didn’t want it to go to waste. So here, without ado (and without comments enabled , b/c it’s a performance piece, not a discussion piece) you go.

Notes From A Boner

They pop up from time to time on Facebook. Time-stamp 3 AM, from an old friend I used to mess around with in college. “Hey, what’s new? I was just thinking about you.”

I bet you were, buddy!

Sometimes they show up in the film class that I teach. I play a clip from Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, to show how color temperature isn’t just a technical thing and you can manipulate it to create mood. “What did you see? What do you think?,” I ask the students.

Every time I do this, a freshman boy says something like “She’s sooooo hot” or better yet, “She used to be so hot,” referring to Jennifer Lopez, who frankly kills it in this role. The girls and gay boys don’t say anything about The Clooney, and I quickly change the topic to “What did you think ABOUT THE LIGHTING” while delivering my best over-the glasses disapproving mom look. The one that says “It is I, Queen Femicunt¹, First of her Name, Khaleesi of the Bitchrealms and the Isles of No Funnington.” I want that boner to slink away and think about what it did. But its presence still lingers. Every clip I show, I now have to think about from the point of view of a taunting, persistent boner.“You’re teaching cinema, I see. Did you know that nearly everything ever created in this medium was designed to make ME happy on some level? Muahahahahaha!

Sometimes the notes from boners get delivered on the street, or on the eL. “Smile!” “You should smile more!” “Hey baby, where’s that smile?” and if I don’t smile, or I smile like this (using two middle fingers to hold up the corners of my mouth),“Bitch!” “Fat bitch” “Ugly bitch” Here I was, walking around, grocery shopping, registering to vote, minding my business. I didn’t know I was making the boners sad. Fortunately The Committee for Boner Rescue and Repair was on the case to educate me. I imagine their letterhead, with Notes from a Boner! Stamped! at the top, ready to deliver humbling memos to grateful citizens everywhere.

Sometimes I write back back to the boners. Like, when I tried to sell my bike on Craigslist, and a guy sent me a dick pic from hisrealname@wherehereallyworks.com. Not wanting that boner to go to waste, I shared it with humanresources@wherehereallyworks.com. Boners are spontaneous. They live in the moment. They don’t always think things through.

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Every month(ish) I answer the questions people typed into search engines to find this blog. Except for adding punctuation, I don’t change the wording. Enjoy!

1. “Mother-in-law hates me. How do I tell her I’m pregnant?”

That sounds like a job for your spouse, her (presumably) son, who should be doing all or most of any communicating with his mom that needs doing.

2. “How to get a passive-aggressive man to talk to you?”

Pretend you don’t want to talk to him but make weird backhanded insults in his presence about how he shouldn’t talk to you, creating an endless loop of passive-aggression. He will be unable to resist your gambit.

"Relativity" by MC Escher

“Your endless staircase of insinuation and feigned dislike reminds me of the much nicer one I have at Pemberley.”

Or try “Hey Steve, nice to see you. How are you today?” like you would with anyone else.

3. “My boyfriend passed away 7 months ago. When is it okay to date again?”

I am so very sorry for your loss. This is actually an easy question to answer in short form:

You are 100% the boss of when you start dating again. If you’re ready now, now is the time. If you need more time to grieve, take all the time you need. Don’t let anyone pressure you, don’t let anyone guilt you, either.

4. “These little old ladies want to be fucked in my phone number 530.”

Image from old "Where's the Beef?" Wendy's commercial. Three little old ladies yell "Where's the beef?" into a phone.

How extremely specific, yet vague. We need details, son!

5. “He never read my Facebook message.”

He probably did, tho.

6. “My housemates complain about me having sex what can I do?”

Be quieter, is my guess, if it’s a noise complaint. Do it at your partner(s)’s house(s) more, if it’s a “but they’re always AROUND and using the shower when we need it and watching our TV and eating our food” complaint. Plan to move if it’s a “we are judgmental of the fact that you have sex at all or who you have sex with” complaint.

Living with housemates requires a certain amount of “I will just choose not to ever notice anything that happens in your room when your door is closed” attitude to make the social contract work. But housemates do actually have the right to say “I signed up to live with you, not you + another person who is always here” and ask you to pitch a road game once in a while if you have overnight guests more than 3-4 nights/week, and they do have a right to ask you to keep it down between certain hours.

7. “I had fight with mybf bcoz of short dress help.” and 8.”Why is he so mean to me?”

Read Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft and get yourself to a safe place that’s Away From That Guy. I’m so sorry.

I’m reading this now (for blog discussion reasons, not personal ones, though it was pretty funny to have my boyfriend buy it for me from the bookstore where he works with “It’s for my girlfriend!”). It is very, very good and will help you see controlling & mean behaviors as part of an overall pattern of deliberate behavior, not anything that is your fault.

9. “Making letter for a friend that you cares about at the same time you mad at him somehow.”

If you don’t want to end or take a break from the friendship, keep the letter (or whatever communication you use) focused on the behavior that bugged you. And try, if you can, to keep it focused on the most recent instance of that behavior. “When you asked me to be your date to the party but were reading your phone/texting all night it really hurt my feelings” is better than “You are always on your phone when we hang out!

10. “How to impress a teacher you have a crush on.”

Do your best work for the class, learn what you came to learn, and move on when the semester is over without confessing your feelings or putting your teacher in an extremely awkward position. Crushes can be motivating personally without ever having to be acted on or expressed, this is one of those kinds of crushes.

11. “Is being tipsy attractive?”

To other tipsy folks, at closing time. Is that who you want to attract?

12. “Do people with Aspergers hate being interrupted?”

While it varies from individual to individual, in my limited experience, they hate this somewhat less than many neurotypical folks do. If you can’t reliably depend on social cues or body language to know when someone wants to tune out from what you’re saying, and a function of your personality is that you can and want to talk for a long time about things that interest you, having a friend or a coworker say “Thank you for that info, but I have all I need now” or “Hey, can we talk about X instead of Y for a minute?” is actually helpful if done kindly. We’ve got a lot of readers who can shed more light on this for you.

I don’t have Aspergers, but I am a geek and a college teacher and can definitely natter on about things, and when I’m in The Talking Zone I definitely appreciate a kind redirection as well.

13. ” How to avoid being the rebound girl?”

Easy. Just make sure that you date someone only after they’ve dated at least one other person since their last breakup.

Waterfall by MC Escher

Only date people if they’ve dated someone else since their last breakup and you will guarantee that you will never be the rebound!

Sorry for the impossible logic problem. It’s because I’d like the idea of the “rebound” to go the way of the “friend zone”: AWAY.

These can be true statements:

“I was dating someone but it didn’t really go anywhere because they were just too hung up on their ex/not looking for anything serious right now/the timing was wrong.” 

This is the truer statement:

“I was dating someone but it didn’t really go anywhere because they didn’t want it to.” 

You can meet someone right after getting out of a serious relationship and, if you like them enough and everything clicks well enough, go right into another one. Or you can be a person who needs a lot of time to regroup after a breakup and doesn’t even want to think about dating anyone seriously…but some makeouts that remind you that you have a body can be nice, or going on a dating site to “see what happens” can be a nice reminder that you have options. These are the On The Rebound people you are keen to avoid, and you will know them by their avoidance of any talk about feelings or the future.

But you can think you are that second kind of person and intend to date casually, until meeting a person you really love shakes you out of that mode. And you can think you are that first kind of person….ready for loooooooooooove!!!!!!….but not get into anything serious because it takes a while for you to meet the right person. Which leaves us with: There are two kinds of people and they are both just…people.

If the other person is really into you, and you are really into them, the timing won’t matter so much. So risk it like you would any other potential love relationship, but also listen to what the other person is saying and pay attention to their actions like you would in pursuing any other potential love relationship. Believe them when they say stuff like  “I like you but I’m just not ready for another serious relationship right now” “Let’s keep this really casual” etc. and don’t try spackle those things over with your awesome chemistry or how well you *should* work on paper. Those statements translate as I don’t want that kind of relationship with you.

14. “What does it mean when a girl says that she likes you but we just cant be in a relationship right now?”

It means she’s not interested in a romantic relationship with you and wants to let you down gently, so she’s using what she thinks is a culturally-approved script to do so. Read it as “she is not attracted to me or interested in ever being my girlfriend,” grieve for what might have been, and don’t bring the topic up again.

15. “He says he feels a deep connection.”

….but? You guys can hear the “but,” right?

16. My girlfriend asked for no contact but can I wish her happy birthday?

No contact is no contact.

My question is, do you want to be involved with someone who doesn’t want any contact with you?

17. “Men who are too intense too soon.”

Let’s reframe and rephrase this.

“Men who like you way more than you like them.”

“Men who creep you out or alarm you with their attentions.”

“Men who try too hard to lock in a relationship before you are ready.”

“Men who don’t pay attention to reciprocity and who come on way too strong.”

“Men who are controlling and needy.”

“Men whose relationship style is not compatible with yours.”

“Too intense” at the beginning of a relationship is often a red flag for someone with violent and controlling tendencies. Listen to those instincts and strongly consider breaking ties with whoever inspired you to search for this.

18. “He dumped me and got angry when I refused to be friends.”

Let’s reframe and rephrase this:

“He made me sad but then immediately made me relieved to be free of him, forever.”

“He suddenly made it much easier for me to put the entire sad business behind me.”

“He thinks that only he gets to decide the terms of our relationship.”

19. “How can you tell if someone has a mean streak?”

They do or say enough mean things to inspire you to Google that question, is my guess.

20. “How to piss off someone who has to have the last word?”

Remove their audience and replace it with sweet, cold, delicious silence.

 

 

Dobby

Is this what you are looking for in a spouse? If so, rethink your entire personality.

Things you should know going in:

This is a two-for.

I am not calm, collected, or unbiased about this topic.

#506

Dear Captain Awkward,

Been married 14 years, I think happily. We are affectionate, and sympathetic to each other’s problems, and want to help each other out. No kids.

My problem is that I’m unhappy with our household division of labor and I can’t make Spouse understand. Somehow, over the course of our relationship, I became responsible for 100% of our at-home meals – planning, shopping, cooking. I try to mitigate this burden by preparing larger portions on weekends so that we can have leftovers for dinner during the week, but it doesn’t always work; maybe the recipe doesn’t yield as much as expected, or maybe it turns out to be awful and I have to throw away what’s left – plus, cooking with an eye for leftovers really limits the available recipes. So inevitably I’m left scrambling and stressed a couple of weekdays per week, not to mention all the time I put in on my supposed days off. And on top of that, Spouse often (once or twice a week) has off-site gatherings in the evenings, meaning that I have to come home from full-time work and immediately get their dinner ready so they can eat and run.

This wouldn’t be a such a problem except for two things. One is that I’m not sure that Spouse offers an equal household contribution elsewhere. It’s true that they deal with most things related to the outside world: vet appointments, travel arrangements, calling contractors/repairpersons, things like that. I’m introverted and really don’t want to do those things, so I’m grateful that Spouse does them. But does it balance out the day-to-day grind of shopping and cooking?

The second is that Spouse flatly refuses to make any changes to this arrangement for any reason. “Can you maybe be responsible for dinner one set day a week?” No. “Can I just have an official day off once a week and we can fend for ourselves?” No. “I’m feeling a little fat – can I have two weeks off from doing the cooking for both of us so I can try out a diet?” No. (The worst is when they pull out the “but I like it when you cook for me, it makes me feel loved” argument. That drives me BONKERS.) Every so often I just can’t take it anymore and I break down and talk about how the arrangement is ruining my life, and all I get is “You poor thing, I’m sorry this is hard for you” and then everything is the same the next day.

What do I do here? Are there some magic words I can say to get Spouse to get them to realize that this arrangement is unreasonable? It is unreasonable, isn’t it?

betty draper with a gun

Does Mad Men make you feel nostalgia for the Good Old Days? OK POSSIBLY YOU MIGHT BE AN ASSHOLE

Dear Letter Writer #495:

I am sad to say that I do not think that there are any magic words that will make this division of labor more reasonable. You have asked, straight up, to make a different division of labor. You have tried, respectfully and straightforwardly to renegotiate the terms of your marriage. You have used your words like a boss and been flat out refused.

Your spouse understands. They have just decided that it would be easier and more successful to manipulate you than to make a sandwich once in a while.

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Hello there, Entire Internet! Thank you for stopping by.

Edited to Add: As of Monday, 8/13 I’ve locked commenting on this post. The moderation demands are overwhelming. Thanks for your constructive contributions! We’ll pick this discussion back up another time.</EDIT>

————–

Right now I’m fielding a lot of emails and comments from guys who are worried they might be creepy or outraged at having been unfairly called creepy and wanting everyone to stop using that unfair word because it is mean and unfair.

I’ve been wanting to write a follow-up post to #322 & #323 (The Case of the Creepy Dudes) about what people can do to be less creepy, but John Scalzi beat me to it, adding to the excellent work of Dr. Nerdlove and Cliff Pervocracy on this subject. If you wrote to me (or commented at length) looking for steps on how not to be creepy or unsure what creepy means, go read all of those links in their entirety and hopefully you’ll figure something out.

I’m noticing some interesting common assumptions and patterns among the responses I’m seeing, and I’d like to write about them here.

First, if you’ve been called creepy, I have no absolution for you. Maybe you were creepy. Maybe you weren’t and the person just didn’t like you for some reason. We have no magic wand to remove the stain of creepiness from you. Arguing that because you are not creepy or because you had good intentions when you did the possibly creepy things, NO ONE is creepy or should ever be called creepy? Not helping your case.

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Here is Letter #322. It and the other letter are below the jump because it’s fucking creepy in there.

Edited to Add: It’s frankly depressing that this post has struck a chord with so many people, but I’m grateful and honored to be able to help the letter writers and to have given voice to what so many people were feeling. Unfortunately the demands of moderating this discussion have become overwhelming this week, so as of Monday, August 13th comments are locked. We’ll pick up this discussion some other time. Thank you for all of your insightful contributions and for making this one of the best commentspaces on the Web.</EDIT>

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Hulk looking mean and mad.

The “H” in Jesus H. Christ stands for Hulk. QUIT FUCKING STALKING PEOPLE WHO DON’T WANT TO TALK TO YOU.

Aw fuck, people. More stalking. Emergency kittens standing by thanks to Twitter friend and hilarious DVD-reviewer @jearl8000.

Dear Captain Awkward,

For a few months now, I have what would be defined as a “Facebook stalker” – he likes all of my pictures, all of my statuses, all of my photos, all of my comments on other people’s statuses… you get the idea, and it increases with each day.  Also, he mails me at least four times a week (usually after I’ve posted a status or something of the like, so he knows that I’m online) saying the same thing – “Hey”, “Hi :)” “Helloooooo”. I never respond, yet he doesn’t seem to be getting the message that I don’t want to talk to him.

Not only is it infuriating, it’s also creeping me out – it’s reached the point where he likes or comments on something within seconds of my posting it.

He’s not a particularly close friend, – in  fact, I don’t really know him that well at all – but he’s someone I’ve spent time with in group outings, and all in all, he’s kind of fun to be around – however, in the viral world, he’s not so much fun. Many of my friends have questioned me about it too, and I have been informed that he’s nigh on infatuated with me (which is weird, because I don’t talk to him that much and we’ve only really hung out a handful of times.) It’s safe to assume that I have no romantic interests for him in return.

Lindy West reacts to a new book by the authors of The Rules with the correct amount of “What the everloving fuck?” (h/t Bitches Gotta Eat)

So, essentially (according to these jokers), online dating is a forum where you put yourself up for auction and then passively watch while men compete for your silent company by bidding varying amounts of pork tenderloins and tennis bracelets. Whatever you do, don’t express an interest in or attraction to anything. The worst thing you can do for your romantic life is to play an active role in your romantic life. Also, Fein and Schneider say, once a man does contact you, under no circumstances should you let him know that you’ve looked at anything on his profile. Keep yourself vague. Because there’s nothing hotter than a woman-shaped blob of nothingness.

Or you could ignore all this speculative, baroque, antifeminist bullshit and just be a fucking human being.”

Yo, should I dump this asshole? should cut into my traffic & inbox significantly. I agree with the author that people who self-describe as “feisty” are to be avoided. See also: Quirky, zany, and madcap. Always avoid the madcap. Though, on that topic, I liked this piece at The Gloss taking down the overuse of the word “crazy”:

You know, it’s funny, generally when men refer to their exes as ‘crazy’ what I keep hearing is ‘she had emotions, and I did not like that…’

And when men do this on a regular basis, remember that, if you are a women, you are not the exception. You are not so cool and fabulous and levelheaded that they will totally get where you are coming from when you show emotions other than “pleasant agreement.”

When men say “most women are crazy, but not you, you’re so cool” the subtext is not, “I love you, be the mother to my children.” The subtext is “do not step out of line, here.” If you get close enough to the men who say things like this, eventually, you will do something that they do not find pleasant. They will decide you are crazy, because this is something they have already decided about women in general.”

A good friend and collaborator once told me I was the first and only non-crazy female director he’d ever worked with. He meant it absolutely as a compliment, I am sure. It’s not a compliment, and it took me a little while to figure out why it sat so badly with me. So then I gave him a piece of my mind about it that started with “Actually, I have a mental illness, so I AM technically ‘crazy,’ and if we’re going to work together again I need you to think real hard about whether you have a different standard for what’s crazy when a woman does it vs. a man.” People paid Stanley “I need the clouds to be just right” Kubrick, Werner “Yeah, we’ll need to carry that over the mountains” Herzog, Terrence “I can only shoot at the Magic Hour” Malick to direct movies. Meek, ever-agreeable and self-effacing is not actually a good quality in a director. Or a girlfriend.

Work/Career Advice:  Bitch Magazine’s post on 10 Things That Would Have Been Good To Know At and After Graduation is pretty spot-on. Congratulations, class of 2012, especially my beloved students and former students. This speech from Neil Gaiman about making a career as an artist is what I wish I could tell all of you. This advice about How To Get and Keep A Mentor is pretty useful as well.

Got any recent great reads you want to link in the comments? (Shameless self-promotion is allowed).

Oh, before I forget, yesterday I spotted honest-to-god FEELINGSART/FEELINGSMAIL outside my CTA stop:

"Billy Jean, I love you. Call me. Love Louis" written in chalk on a sidewalk.

Way to use your words, Louis!

EmotionsAreTiresome

If Sherlock is your emotional spirit guide, seek other help immediately.

Commander Logic here.

I have been a geek and loved geeks since I began having relationships outside my family, and I have to say that The 5 Geek Social Fallacies rang true to me in that particular self-recognition-wince way. And Holly’s 5 Geek Sexual Fallacies were helpful too! DUDE, SO HELPFUL.

But I feel like there’s still room for one more Geek Fallacy list, and this is one for Geek Relationships. Have we gotten past the “Geeks are unloveable losers” trope yet? Geeks have relationships and the particular pitfalls for my logical, overthinking ilk deserve mention.

Now, remember folks! Just because you are a geek doesn’t mean you are a carrier for any of these fallacies, and just because you’re NOT a geek doesn’t mean you aren’t a carrier.

1 – “Logic Wins.”

Emotions are difficult, so let’s keep everything logical and then we will never have problems. The person who is having emotions outside those that are expected is weak and the loser and – worst of all – wrong.

2 – “Disagreements mean we have to break up”

Wanting to make a change in the relationship means the relationship is flawed, and therefore unsustainable.

3 – “Change = Social Death”

Changes in a relationship (starting to date or breaking up) will disrupt the surrounding friend group.

4 – “Love me, love my obsession. Love my obsession, love me.”

You both have to love everything in the same way with the same intensity. – If you love the same thing and you are gender-appropriate, you HAVE to date.

5 – “We are the only members of our species.”

Our geekdom is so idiosyncratic that if we break up/don’t start a relationship, we will never find another suitable person to love.

Let’s get a little further inside these fallacies, shall we?

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Black Snow

A woman with more self confidence and experience than you is like the filthy black snow of late February.

Thanks, Feministe, for pointing me toward this piece at Marie Claire:  “Why Men Prefer Innocent Girls to Bad Girls” by Rich.  Rich’s friends divide women into categories called Innocent/Good Girls and Bad Girls, and I’ve got bad news for women with opinions, self-confidence, and a sexual history.

Across the board, the guys agreed they prefer an innocent woman over a “bad girl.”

OH NOES

Fortunately, Rich lists and explains his reasons.

Men like to be leaders on the journey that “corrupts our innocence.”

Guys just want to be the leader of that journey instead of the followers. I guess it’s like white fresh snow versus the snow that’s turning black on the side of the road in under the haze of car exhaust. The fresh snow is more of a palette for adventure.”

If you are not coded as “innocent,” you are THE FILTHY BLACK SNOW OF LATE FEBRUARY instead of, I don’t know, a fresh white snowbank where a man can, uh, mark out new territory.

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